Tuesday 31 January 2012

Another form of Compatibility: Application Eco-systems

A little while ago I was asked to present on the topic of application compatibility in a future multi-platform, multi-user, multi-device world. I agreed and started thinking about the "multi-multi-multi" problem that we are starting to enjoy the benefits from (think tables, mobile and desktop versions of the same application) and then about the technical challenges and getting things working across the the new "multi-multi-multi" or M3 reality. 

And, by getting things working, I raise the bar somewhat and consider the following requirements for "getting things working" which includes;

     - Deployment: automated, secure deployments with update and uninstall support
     - Management: reporting, telemetry and access control
     - Cohabitation: multiplatform support, application co-existence, services/data access and integration

This in effect means that applications install properly, work well on each platform and more challengingly (is this a word?) work well together. Interestingly, while I was treading around my RSS feeds, I found the following image describing the new battle ground in the multi-multi-multi universe;

I thought that this image was pretty apt - Not because it was accurate, more rather it represents a very narrow view of the coming challenges of multiple platforms and more importantly the increasing importance of multiple application eco-systems. 

It's now all about ;
     1) multiple platforms (hardware)
     2) multiple devices (desktop, mobile, tablet)

and 3) multiple eco-systems. Yes, we have seen the spectacular rise of the Apple App store and with Microsoft strategically aping this approach, we will have at least a few distinct and most like non-compatibile application eco-systems. 

As a final note on this, don't count Microsoft out yet as they has developed THE LARGEST application ecosystem over the past few decades and the Microsoft App store is very likely to build on that huge momentum for some time to come.

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